by Dr. Derek Lamar
Teen Screen magazine was not an underground publication and it wasn't good literature but it was a rock and roll icon as far as the fanzines go. Lou Epton, an actor, was around the office much of the time back then. He now has his own radio show in Las Vegas on KLAV 1230 AM. I spoke to him recently and he said: "I go back with Shelly (Hyman) to the 50's in Chicago, when he started it all. You got to give him credit, he had the guts to put it together without a dime, and make it work."It was called Teen Screen because the teen movies of the 50's and 60's were so popular. But with the advent of the Beatles and the British Invasion suddenly the fan magazines were filled with rock stars. Music was in and movies were out.
(Left: Lou Epton, radio talk show host in Las Vegas.)
Teen Screen was just walking distance from Hollywood and Vine and where some of that music was: Capitol Records. As art director I would give publicist Liza Williams a call and she would give the okay for me to have the run of the photo room which was nice. I knew Liza when she wrote a column for Open City. She told me I could have anything unless it was the last copy of a picture in a given folder. Teen Screen magazine was famous for publicizing the Beatles so they were more than happy to supply us with whatever we needed. But having the opportunity to go through Capitol Records' own photo cabinets to pick out Beatles pictures was a dream come true.
The thing which really caught my eye when I first toured the offices of Teen Screen was the back issues room. On one of the shelves sat copies of a Beatles tribute magazine along with separate issues: one for each of the Beatles: John, Paul, George, and Ringo. As a teenage Beatle fan I had at one time ownedeach one of these magazines. Now here I stood as the art director for that publishing company. Not the finding of the Holy Grail but damn close.
It was a peculiar metaphysical sort of moment. I remembered 1966 when radio station KRLA was crazed with Beatle fever as they promoted the Beatles and the upcoming concert. There were contests and "exclusives" (new songs played on no other radio station) as well as interviews and anecdotes related to anything Fab Four. They talked about the Beatles staying at a rented house on Curson Terrace in the Hollywood Hills. I decided I was going to see the Beatles. In my naïve teenage idiocy I thought I would drive to Hollywood and when I found a house with several limousines parked out front I would know where the Beatles were staying.
(Above: The Beatles, John Paul, George and Ringo)
I got in my dad's work car, a 1956 Ford station wagon and took off for Hollywood on Wednesday, August 24, 1966. I had this blind determination which drove me as far as Hollywood and since I had no idea where I was going I thought "What the hell, I might as well stop off at Capitol Records." I had never seen it up close. Only from the freeway in the car when my parents would go to my uncle's house. I parked the car on a side street and looked up at the tall circular building famous for its "stack of records" design. Immediately I realized there were several people gathering around back near the parking area. I asked "What's happening? What's everyone doing here?"
"We're waiting for the Beatles. The Beatles are going to be here!!!"
You can imagine my shock. Reality had already surfaced and I thought my little adventure was pretty stupid. Now somehow my "blind determination" was actually paying off. All sorts of people started showing up: both to gawk as well as to be let into the basement door in the back of the building. Robert Vaughn showed up and everyone yelled their support for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television show. Others were rushed in no one seemed to know. Suddenly Derek Taylor (former press agent for the Beatles) , whom I would meet later, appeared and everyone yelled: "We love the BYRDS!!!" The tension increased and the excitement was contained but increasing nonetheless. Without much more wait a Brinks truck quickly turned into the parking lot and the crowd went wild. A few kids broke ranks and ran toward the vehicle. Paul made a face at the crowd with his hands in his ears and finally the armored car came to a halt right at the walkway of the basement door. Quickly the Beatles were ushered in by security. First Paul, then George, John and finally Ringo. John looked so strange at the time because his hair was cut short for the Dick Lester film: "How I Won The War."
(Above right: Capitol Record building... still a masterpiece in icon archetecture. Above left: Beatles gather at Capitol Records for concert PR with Robert Vaughn. Left: same gathering showing Paul, John & Ringo. August 24, 1966.)
In 4 days on August 28th I would be at Dodger Stadium experiencing my first Beatles concert. This was the next to the last concert the Beatles would do just prior to their Cow Palace concert in San Francisco. When it was over I rushed out to a parking area in the back where I found a Brinks truck parked waiting outside double exit doors. Suddenly a door opened. I waited with paralyzed attention. It was a security guard. There were a couple of girls standing there with me and the guard pleaded with us to understand that the Beatles had already left the stadium and that this truck was really there to take the proceeds from the concert. We didn't want to believe him but we all basically knew it was true. We walked off in a daze.
I reached out and picked up one of the Beatle magazines and flipped through the pages as I was transported back to reality. As I looked around I could see the multitude of other magazines published there. My Secret Life, Real Confessions (I Was Pregnant And The Safest Girl In School), and TV, Radio & Movie Guide.
(Above right: Tickets To Ride... A Magical Mystery Tour I'll never forget, or the long and winding road. Shown are assorted tickets to that famous concert in Chavez Ravine... the location of Dodger Stadium.)
I grabbed the latest issue of Teen Screen Magazine with a Bobby Sherman picture on the cover and a Maybelline ad on the back. I was soon to learn that the full color Maybelline ad paid for the printing of the entire magazine so it was crucial. It also made it possible for the cover to be in full color.
This would be my first introduction to actual computers, key punch machines, mailing machines. Susan Hansen operated the early computers which were IBM and strictly used for typesetting. There were two of them: one for typing and programming and the other for printing out the hard copy. They didn't even have a monitor of any kind.
Anne Moore was the editor when I first started there. Shortly thereafter Jackie Friedman became the editor. I remember her interview with the original Osmonds. Jackie used to come into the art department and try to get gossip from us at deadline. Michael was working there by this time as my assistant and he perked right up. Jackie said: "Come on, you guys know what's going on around town, give me something." So Michael, always eager to please, proceeded to tell Jackie about the skiing accident Julie Christie had the week before leaving her with a broken leg." Not a word was true of course.
What was true, however, was the breakup of the Beatles. This was the word on the street and a special edition was planned. Nothing said The Beatles more than Teen Screen so it was appropriate to start laying out a Beatles commemorative magazine. Jackie was busy at her desk and I was off to Capitol Records for more 8 x 10's and the latest color transparencies I could obtain. It seemed like a dream that this could be happening. As John Lennon said: "The dream is over, what can I say. The dream is over, yesterday. I was the dreamweaver but now I'm reborn. I was the walrus but now I'm John. And so dear friends, you just have to carry on. The dream is over."
(Above: The break-up disaster... getting back was something they would never do.)
Saga continues: From Hollywood and Vine to Puzzle City where the Hollywood Sidewalks Are Covered In Glass.
© Copyright Derek Lamar 2004
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